by Mary Granholm
What do the U.S., Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Naura, Palau, and Tonga have in common? You may be surprised at the answer. They are the only seven countries that have not ratified CEDAW. And what is CEDAW? It’s the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women that was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 18, 1979, entered into force on September 5, 1981, and has been ratified by 189 countries. The U.S. signed it on July 17, 1980, it was voted out of committee in 2002, but has not yet come up for a floor vote in the Senate yet.
Our Midpeninsula Chapter of UNA believes ratification is long overdue and thinks the timing is right for the Senate to ratify CEDAW before UN Day for Women’s Rights in March of 2010. We urge all of our members to call or write Senator John Kerry, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee to bring this to a vote on the floor of the Senate.
Please read the Talking Points on CEDAW and review the articles of the convention below:
The UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
Preamble: Notes that the U.N. Charter “reaffirms faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women;” that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “affirms the principle of the inadmissibility of discrimination and proclaims that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, including distinction based on sex;” also notes the many resolutions, declarations, and recommendations adopted by the General Assembly and the specialized agencies of the United Nations promoting equal rights for men and women; yet expresses concern that “extensive discrimination against women continues to exist.”
Article 1: Defines discrimination against women as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”
Article 2: Instructs States Parties to condemn discrimination against women In all forms and pursue its elimination by all appropriate means, including changing national constitutions and enacting legislation.
Article 3: Mandates that States Parties take all appropriate measures in all fields to “ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them [equal rights].”
Article 4: Allows States Parties to adopt “temporary special measures” to promote equality for women.
Article 5: Requires that States Parties take all appropriate measures to modify social and cultural patterns of behavior to eliminate prejudices, practices and customs based on the inequality of, or prejudices against, either of the sexes and to ensure that family education provides a proper description of the social function of motherhood and the “common responsibility” of both men and women in child rearing and development.
Article 6: Mandates States Parties to prevent trafficking in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.
Article 7: Instructs States Parties to end discrimination against women in political and
event of marriage or maternity.
Article 12: Instructs States Parties to provide women equal rights with men in all aspects of health care.
Article 13: Declares that States Parties shall eliminate discrimination against women in all aspects of economic and social life, including family benefits, financial transactions such as loans and mortgages, and recreational and sporting activities.
Artkle 14: Highlights the particular problems and contributions of rural women and instructs States Parties to ensure the provisions of the present Convention are applied to them.
Article 15: Mandates that States Parties provide women equal status with men before the law, including with respect to contracts, the administration of property, the movement of persons, and choice of residence.
Article 16: Instructs States Parties to eliminate discrimination against women in all aspects of marriage and family relations, including providing equal rights with men.
Article 20: Declares the Committee shall meet at U.N. Headquarters each year for no more than two weeks.
Artkle 21: Mandates that the Committee report annually on its activities to the General Assembly, through the Economic and Social Council, and may make “suggestions and general recommendations based on the examination of reports and information received from the States Parties.”
Article 22: Allows for relevant U.N. specialized agencies to be represented at meetings of the Committee and authorizes the Committee to invite them to “submit reports on the implementation of the Convention.”
Article 23: States that nothing in the present Convention will “affect any provisions that are more conducive to the achievement of equality between men and women” that may be contained in a State Party’s legislation or in any other international treaty.
Article 24: Requires States Parties to “adopt all necessary measures at the national level aimed at achieving the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Convention.”
Article 25: Declares that CEDAW will be open for signature, ratification and accession by all states.
Article 26: Allows for any State Party to request a revision of the Convention at any time and states that the General Assembly “shall decide upon the steps, if any, to be taken in respect of such a request.”
Article 27: Declares that the Convention will enter into force thirty days after the twentieth ratification has been deposited and for countries ratifying thereafter, it will be thirty days before the treaty enters into force.
Article 28: Establishes procedures for reservations made by countries at the time of ratification or accession.
Article 29: Allows for disputes between States Parties to be submitted to arbitration.
Article 30: Instructs the Convention to be deposited with the Secretary General of the United Nations.